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I was never good at maths, reading or anything that involved memorising information, but I’ve been told as soon as I picked up a pencil, from the age of 2 or 3, I could see persepective and draw it on paper. I could also memorise and pick out a tune on the piano. Strangely, as I was awful at reading, I could write a good story. My mother said she actually found my artistic ability embarrasing at school open day as all the kids work was on the walls and mine stood out.

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Remember, at that age the talents which I didn’t have and the other kids did, hadn’t come to the for. At primary school it’s all about getting your hands dirty in paint. She used to take me to one side and tell me ‘not to boast’. To be honest, because drawing was second nature, I wasn’t sure why I had to keep it to myself but I instinctively knew she was right.

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This was verified when several kids began to bully me for ‘being good at art’ and formed a small alliance agaisnt me spreading rumours - generally being normal kids! Whilst this didn’t appear to affect me much at the time (I was pretty confident inside and always in charge of the kids games in the playground), it had lasting consequences. Besides in 1977, apart from Star Wars (a girl in my class brought Darth Vader's actual helmet to school as her father was working on the film!), I was six and it wasn’t until later when some of the other kids who were more gifted at maths and academic subjects, that I felt my first pangs of insecurity, which was to lead me on a jouney to where I am now.

Til then, in my mind not much could touch me, I was happily confident. I wasn’t some monster child, I just wasn’t aware of some of the other latent skills and talents that lie within my piers. later on when we were split into different streams of academic ablity, it was good for me to see other kids gifts and talents in action. It was humbling and the first time I’d experienced someone being ‘better than me’ at school (I was also the fastest runner and quite popular with the girls – all these things are what matters when you’re six!). The truth was - I was arrogant but in a innocent kind of way. But I always had a lot of time and compassion for my friends if they were in need or hurt. It’s only looking back, that I can see that all this was to humble me, on my journey towards becoming a Christian.

Things really started to change. I was confident, and got a lot of attention but academia was becoming more and more important, and I was placed in the middle streams for several subjects and many of my once less leader-like friends were placed in higher classes than me. It was at this time that some of them began to see my waeknesses. I’m sire ALL kids go through this in one way or another. Still the inner confidence was still there and I was happily entertainling the other classmates with my impressions of the teachers and other kids. The comprehensive school I now attended though was massive and pretty rough. The kids could be very aggressive and there was a lot of fighting – into which I got involved several times, just defending myself as I remember. One time I broke my hand hitting some kid who was bullying me – he was my best mate after that – perhaps Id proved myself?!

It was a sudden shock when I was moved classes for ‘being disruptive’ as I was pretty unaware I was having such a negative affect. It wasn’t fitting, it was ‘talking and entertaining the other kids’. The move was the beginning of many years of depression that would last well into my late 20’s. The depression came about because I was suddenly forced to face all my insecurities at once, many of which I didn’t know I had. I do remember some comfort from one teacher, my religious studies teacher who seemed to like me – a gentle but tough Christian lady who saw I was going through a lot of mental turmoil taking me to one side and saying – “you’ve been moved class – but don’t worry - you’ll be a great leader one day”. I’m still not sure what she meant. She must have got the wrong person lol. I was startled and relayed this to my parents, who were equally phased, knowing me as quiet and shy at home. My brothers being far louder and more boisterous - showing far more ‘leadership’ qualities than I ever did. A strange thing occurred. I had somehow developed a dual personality. I remember distinctively having to be two people. My natural confident self at school, and my second repressed shy and quite self at home. At the time I never thought of this as bad. Kids accept what is as the norm. The truth is it still affects me today when I’m around my family.

1983 – blessing in disguise
I was 12. ET had come out, I had been moved into a new class and I could feel my confidenece once pretty strong beginning to wain. We had split into streams of ability, and you can’t pretend or rely on your humour or confidence, wisdom or discernment at this point – the kids in the top streams are king and they know it (unless you're good at sport - I was picked from forty teams to play in goal for my league but it's not quite the same as being on the pitch). Kids have to invent ways of surviving. Depression had started to take root. Whilst once school had been a joy, now everything was academic and seemed like a struggle. My natural ability for art was great but as my Grandather always reminded me – “you can’t make any money out art and musicians have to be lucky”.

1984 – a new start
By this time even at 13, I had beome pretty dispondant with life, friends and school. I was always thnking and analysing - far too much for my own good. But by some twist of fate my parents had decided to move closer to London due to the fact that my father was fed up with driving to London from Bognor Regis every day – a journey that took two hours there, two hours back. Despite the fact that at first it another dispalecement seemed the last thing I needed, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Potentially I had a new start, and the kids wouldn’t know anything about me. The first thing that happened when I got there though was I was placed two years ahead of the other kids in art and had had my art lessons with all the big kids. I was offered a scholarship to go to a posh college (can't remember the name but it was the same place some of the Floyd kids and Phil Collins went). But I just remembered my Grandfather's point that art was a dud subject if you wanedt to make a living, and besided my brothers were all taking the more sensible route and concentrating on sciences. That was a huge mistake as I had no idea at the time you could be an advertising illustrator or a whole host of do other well paid artistic jobs. But it was entirely my decision.

With the sudden death of my cousin in a car accident in 1989 I had become a little more philosophical about life. But my overall depressive thoughts still got the better of me much of the time. I had moved from a pretty rough comprehensive school in Bonor Regis to a comprehensive that seemd as close as you’d get to a private school in the heart of surrey countryside. At first I can remember thinking that I was never going to relate to these posh kids but sure enough I was to learn a great lesson in life - taste can be aquired and if you spent long enough somewhere or doing something, no matter how unatural – you get used to it – even like it! At least these kids (apart from one) didn’t bully me. That was a great relief. They seemed more eduated in that sense.

It was not long after that I started playing guitar partly because I was naturally good and loved music and I guess partly because it would give me an identity (though the latter was more subconcious at the time). Within three months I’d learnt many Jimi Hendrix songs and loads of Elvis Presley songs or to be more more precise, Scotty Moore guitar solos. I remember my history teacher who was a part time session player being surprised I had learnt that amount of stuff in two months. He helped us make a 5 song demo – my playing was very rough – it but a lot of fun.

1990 - Born Again!!!
After what seemed like years of searching, I finally gave my life to God and became a Christian around 1990. I was at art college and still very disollusioned with life. For all the great people there, if you want to be surrounded by spin – art college is the place to go. Art college for most wasn’t about becoming a skilled artist – it was about carving out an identity and spinning your work – I found that really disagreeable. I was very naiive and in retrospect I should have loved it and let these things go over my head. I should have concentrated on developing my ability – but all the pretense just added to my despair! By now I was getting drunk quite a bit with my mates and was often quite aggressive. I was very angry that the world seemed to be set up for those who were willing to bend the rules and those who were sharp academiclly. Artists were a joke unless they sold blocks of ice or white canvases - then they were cool. Another thing that struck me in my naiivety was that lifes pretenders often did so well simply by saying the right things and mixing with the right people. I was angry that I was loosing the will to live because of these people. It was only years later that I realised that to overcome the world was the great challenge and a blessing if you look at it with God in your heart. But I was not mature enough to see it. It also involved looking outwards and I was still very much wrapped up in my own thoughts and wants.

I was still playing my guitar and by now I was good. But I was still very depressed and I remember saying a prayer to God saying something like “if you are there – pls make yourself known to me – I can’t take any more of this”. What seemed like instantly, this guy came into my life who was an electronic enginner and just as good on the guitar as me. I had till this point, not found anyone who was on my level playing wise (if I’d gone to music college it would have been a different) But this guy was really good. We played guitar down the phone to each other and he couldn’t belive I played so fast. I couldn’t belive he played so clean – he had an unusual style that made his playing sound perfect. Anyway – I think I drove over ther the same day.

He didn’t tell me he was a Christian. He just impressed me with amazing guitar licks and vice versa. Somewhere in the next few weeks the subject of God came up – he must have had a church meeting or something. That was it – I jumped straigh in. I was despareate to hear what Christians (who in my subconcious had always thought had it right) really believed. He helped me make sense of what I’d always belived to be true from the first time I remember looking into the night sky as a kid and thinking, “anyone who doesn’t belive in God must be blind”. – I ALWAYS knew there was a God.

I sensed we were both on the same search for truth. After much searching and being dragged to a few Christian meetings I made the connection between a loving God, him becoming a man - specifically experiencing the things that we go through and ultimately sacrificing himself for his beloved created beings in the form of Christ. Although the depression wasn’t lifted for ten years or so – it gave what I had become to see as a pointless existence without God - considerable meaning and a reason to go on. Everything seemed to fit perfectly – all that was good, all that was bad, lifes pretenders, my depression - everything, it was all about a loving God trying to redeem his people to whom he’d given free will to either face him or turn away from him.

The next hurdle that was to last for years was explaining to my family what had happened. I can remember the enormous pressure I felt and ridicule I was expecting. Whilst we were all very loyal should any of us have any troubles, it was to be honest a very 'male' family that thrived on sarcasm and put downs. The word ‘Jesus’ was just not something I felt I could say in the house. We all went to Christian primary schools but God and Jesus were not needed in day to day living. My dad had experienced first hand the Catholic churches hypocrysy and abandoned it years ago. Hearing about it now I don’t blame him. Most churches are like people – full of problems and hypocrsy. But God reminds us he knows of our imprefetions. Especially after we killed him! To my family, my ‘new found religion’ was probably an escape from the depression, which Im sure for many it is. It’s quite normal for people who struggle with life to seek some spiritual crutch. However I knew this wasn’t true as it hadn’t lifted my depression – just made sense of it. I had depression for the next 13 or 14 years and I had belived in God when I was six, before any of lifes problems occurred.

From the point of my conversion (being born again which is really how it felt) point I must have spent the next seven years reading Christian and non-Christian books to quench my thirst for truth. CS Lewis was my favourite. I think Im very old fashioned at heart and he hit the button right on the head. I would often read stuff he’d written and whoop with delight as I realsied he, the scolar and academic, was having and writing about the very same thoughts as I’d been having – dreadful reader and useless at academia, and where truth is concerned – it seems there are no boundaries to its understanding. I knew instinctvley that if God wasn’t a monster then truth had to be different and here was a professor confirming those thoughts!:) All I had to do was seek it – and the Holy Spirit would open the eyes of my heart and mind. It really is all about the heart. How else can you explain the most learned and clever scholars or politicians sometimes acting as if they had no intelligence at all. The reason is simple.. wisdom is very differnet to intelligence. Not everyone is blessed with intelligence – but to anyone who has a mind that works and asks – wisdom will be granted. Praise God!!!!!!!!

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